Balance in Stories

In successful stories, there is a balance between Idea and Image, Reason and Imagination, Theme and Archetypes (or the symbolic representations of themes), Meaning and Form, Purpose and Shape, the Masculine and the Feminine.

In good stories, this balance is threatened by the antagonist. The threat represented by this character creates a core vacuum which causes motion or action. This is called the Plot. It’s not often discussed in this way, but a plot in a story is a mechanical device designed to acquire and hold enough of a reader’s attention to bring about the annihilation of the core vacuum above and to restore balance. In other words, a story needs a series of events in a particular sequence which draws the reader along, never letting go until the reader comes face to face with the fundamental ‘hole’ or problem which has driven the whole thing from the beginning.

We find that in most successful stories the protagonist and the antagonist are linked in some way - Luke Skywalker is the son of Darth Vader, Frodo is connected to Sauron through the Ring, Morgana Le Fey is the sister of Arthur, Harry Potter’s scar connects him to Voldemort, and so on. This isn’t just coincidence or something to do with Jung: this is a very precise mechanism which must arise if a story is being told properly and fully. Protagonists must be pulled towards antagonists, just as a magnet pulls iron. The ‘hole’ created by the antagonist needs to be filled by the protagonist and what he or she brings.

A good story is at its most basic about two poles, the coming together of which is the story.

The core vacuum of a story is embodied in the antagonist, and is a representation of an absence of one of the things listed above: